One of the things I’ve been having fun with these last few week are sprayers and sprayer tips. I feel like I’ve created enough content on the Ortho Dial-N-Spray and how to use that to put out your liquid fertilizer and bio-stimulants, and now it’s time to move in the direction of pump sprayers.
(there is nothing wrong with hose end sprayers - but I want to offer options to those who don’t like using them)
Using a pump sprayer opens up a lot of possibilities for you. The first of which is not being tethered. While I do like to use my hose end sprayer, I don’t like being tethered because it’s limiting.
The other advantage to a pump/air sprayer is that you have much more flexibility. You can of course apply your bio-stimulants and liquid fertilizers, but you can also apply all of your “ides” with a pump sprayer. These being pesticides like:
- Herbicides - kill plants
- Fungicides - stop fungus
- Insecticides - kill bugs
The majority of pesticides should not be applied via a hose end sprayer because it is not precision enough. Remember, if you are working with an “ide” and there is no mixing instruction for hose end sprayers on the label, you should not use one to apply.
This is why reading the label is so important when it comes to the “ides” because there are exceptions. I utilize a few different insecticides in this video here and I show you one that does allow a hose end sprayer - however, those are rare.
And in fact, when you start using “professional formulations” of pesticides, you are not going to find hose end sprayer instructions on them. That is because most of them are formulated for very low use rate meaning, it takes very little active ingredient to cover a lot of lawn space.
An example of this is with the Prodiamine WDG I have been making training videos about. For warm season turf, it only takes 13 grams of that water dispersible granule to provide 5 months of protection for a 1,000 sq ft area. Just think about that. It’s not much. Hence the need for precision.
The primary way we DIYers can get this precision is by using a pump/air sprayer or “hand can” that allows us to utilize tips that output product in a more precise way.
Let me first say, I highly recommend you invest in a battery powered sprayer. This is because a battery or pump driven pump is going to give you a consistent output throughout your application. If you have a “hand pump” air sprayer, you can still get the job done, but you will need to pump and air it up often during your application. If you are spraying more than about 2,500 sq ft, this constand pumping is going to become annoying and frustrating.
The one that I recommend you start out with is the Field King 2 gallon sprayer. This sprayer comes with a diaphragm pump that airs it up and pushes the liquid spray mix through the line and out the tip. I’ve been using it all year for all sorts of tasks and it works very well.
Now with this sprayer, I have been doing mostly flood-type apps. Meaning, applications of products that need to get out at a higher volume and will be watered into the soil. These are bio-stimulants and liquid fertilizers and most recently, pre-emergent herbicide. With these applications I am using a flat fan tip called a “FloodJet.”
You can get this tip in a plastic version (TF-VP5) or a stainless version (TF-VS5) - same tip, just different construction, and recently I have been buying the stainless versions from Sprayer Depot as they are cheaper - and the shipping from those guys is very fast.
And now I want to take you through how and why this tip works with this sprayer. The first thing is to review my bucket test I did with this tip and sprayer. You can view that video here. In that video I found that it takes 80 seconds for this sprayer with this tip to put out 1 gallon of spray mix liquid. That is 1 minute and 20 seconds.
When it comes to spray mixes from hand cans, I typically talk in terms 1 gallon of spray mix covers 1,000 sq ft. It’s just a standard that I use. So with this sprayer then, I can cover 1,000 sq ft in 80 seconds. That is a good paced walk, but it’s not crazy. I’m a short guy and I can handle it, so can you.
But did you know there is a way to verify that output? Look at this chart that is supplied by the makers of this tip, TeeJet:
Now I realize that is an eye-chart so let me get you to just focus on the blue box on the left and the first 3 columns. The color of the sprayer tip we are using is blue and numbered “5” and that is how you know to look at this chart and follow the blue TF-5 tip.
The first column is referring to the PSI of your sprayer. PSI stands for “pounds of pressure per square inch” and when you get a battery powered sprayer, it will always tell you the PSI. The PSI for the Field King sprayer is 20. It pushes out 20PSI through it’s diaphragm pump.
The second column refers to droplet size which with we are not going to spend much time on but just to be thorough, “UC” stands for Ultra Course - which just means “big giant drops.”
This means you would not want to use this tip with this sprayer if you were applying something like a post emergent weed killer that needs to be in a finer mist that can stick to broadleaf weeds. Since we are doing blanket apps of products that we want to be watered in, “Ultra Course” is a good droplet size.
And the third column, the one I want to focus on here, is telling you how many “gallons per minute” should be coming out of that tip at that PSI. So this is telling us that if we have a constant 20 PSI being pushed from our sprayer, the tip should then allow .71 gallons per minute of liquid to flow.
Let’s see just how accurate my bucket test was then. My bucket test told me that it took 80 seconds to output 1 gallon using that blue V5 tip. If it’s matching what’s on the chart, then it should put out .71 gallons per minute or almost ¾ gallon every minute.
60 seconds = 1 minute
This means that my sprayer with that tip puts out .75 or ¾ gallon per minute. Pretty dang close to what the chart shows, especially considering that I rounded up and down here and there in my bucket test - so we can call that good!
What Did We Learn?
The reason I took you through this exercise is that now you can purchase tips in other sizes that put out the amount you want. The key with this Field King sprayer is that it has a constant output of 20PSI. In fact, that is all you have, no way to adjust up or down. So just know, 20PSI is constant, now you can choose the tip that works best for you.
Remember, everything we mix up is mixed at 1 gallon of spray mix covers 1,000 sq ft.
What if You Want to Walk Slower?
So if you want to spray and walk slower and take your time, you could get the white tip, TF-4 and it will output just over ½ gallon per minute. (.57 GPM @ 20PSI)
This would work for those of you who like to double walk your area and cover it in two passes. You go north and south and then east and west.
The max amount you could apply with this 2 gallon sprayer is 2,000 sq ft. If you have the white tip on there, it will spray out the entire two gallons in 3.5 minutes.
2/.57 = 3.5
Believe it or not, that is a pretty leisurely walk pace considering you are only covering 2,000 sq ft.
In the next piece of this little series, we will explore some even more advanced ways to tweak the spray output by using a backpack sprayer that allows you to adjust the PSI from 20-60. When you have the ability to adjust not only the tip size/output, but also the PSI of your sprayer, now you are REALLY “dialing it in” and you can customize your spray to your liking quite nicely.
That article and supporting video will be out later this week!